Reporting Chris Simon
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As boating season commences, the DNR wants to remind all “weekend captains” to do their part in preventing the state’s lakes and rivers from being overrun by invasive species of plants and other aquatic life.
Officials are particularly worried about zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas, which transport themselves from lake to lake on the hulls of boats and personal watercraft that are not properly cleaned.
Maj. Phil Meire, of the DNR’s Enforcement Division, said proper cleaning of watercraft is crucial in preventing the spread of invasive species.
“When you leave a body of water, make sure everything is cleaned, and your live wells are emptied and there are no invasive species attached to any part of your boat,” he said.
Invasive species present a lethal danger to indigenous plant and water life, Meire said.
Inspectors will be on boat ramps and patrolling roads leading up to popular lakes and waterways, making sure boats are clean. Fines range from $50 to $250 for non-compliance. However, on July 1, those fines are set to double after lawmakers passed numerous new laws.
As an example, the DNR said civil penalties for failing to remove a drain plug while transporting a watercraft will mean a $100 fine.
Another new law, which goes into effect in 2015, will require anyone who transports watercraft or watercraft equipment to take an online course on invasive species and place a certificate of completion decal on their watercraft trailer.